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Marbella: A name synonymous with luxury tourism and villa rentals. Branded as a five-star resort, Marbella has been a holiday hangout for the international Jet Set for decades. 

It’s not often you hear of a Rolls Royce breaking down but for this very reason, Marbella was discovered as a fitting holiday retreat for Europe’s elite back in the mid-1940s. 

Once upon a time

German Prince Maximilian zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg and his son, Alfonso, were passing through the small fishing port of Marbella on Malaga’s glittering coastline when their Rolls Royce broke down. 

Now a Rolls Royce is not infallible but it’s one of the most reliable luxury cars on the market, so perhaps that moment was fate. It was certainly a defining moment in Marbella’s history.

Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe liked Marbella so much that he bought land on what is now Marbella’s Golden Mile and turned it into his home, Finca Santa Margarita. In 1954 Alfonso turned the finca into the Marbella Club Hotel and a steady stream of A-list Hollywood stars came to visit.

Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Sir Laurence Olivier, all spent time at the Marbella Club Hotel and so the term, ‘The Marbella Jet Set’ was born. 

Marbella has a lot to thank Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe for and in his honour, the strip known as the Golden Mile was named after him: Boulevard Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe.

Marbella: International super-standard

Today, Marbella is a multi-faceted destination which equally serves premium class and economy tourism. But its Marbella’s luxury villa rentals market which is setting global standards in luxury tourism.

It’s an excellent base to discover the delights of the Costa del Sol and Malaga province, including the exquisite Andalusian countryside; Ronda is just a 45-minute drive from Marbella.

The beauty of ‘Modern-day Marbella’ is in its versatility. Michelin-star restaurants, five-star hotels such as Nobu Hotel Marbella and the Puente Romano Beach Resort, and stylish beach clubs go hand in hand with celebrated low-key tapas bars and authentic ‘chiringuito’ beach dining.

Marbella is chameleon-like in the way it can adapt to a traveller’s craving and once bitten you are truly smitten with the Marbella lifestyle.

A record turnover for Marbella ultra-luxury villas

During and post-Covid, Marbella saw a record turnover in the sale of ultra-luxury villas. Marbella luxury villa sales tripled in 2021 to a record high.

The need to have a bolt-hole where one can escape to should we find ourselves in a new pandemic situation stimulated record sales. And it seems luxury real estate buyers are choosing Marbella for its year-round mild climate and excellent infrastructure. 

Buyers are coming from all over the world – the US, Middle East, Northern Europe – especially Scandinavian countries, Spain, and of course Russian buyers were high on the list before war broke out.

There are four main locations in what is termed Marbella’s super segment: the most desirable locations in the area. 

Beach-front Golden Mile, La  Zagaleta & El Madroñal, Sierra Blanca and beachside Marbella East. 

Let’s take a look at the USPs of each and why ultra-luxury travellers and buyers are choosing these super segments for their villa stay or real estate investment.

The Golden Mile, Marbella

High-end rentals are almost all frontline or beachside on Marbella’s exclusive Golden Mile, The rental price tag in the high season ranges from 30,000 € to 140,000 € per week in the prime Golden Mile locations of Marbella Club and Puente Romano. 

Demand is centred around the arrival of the Royal Saudi household who wish to be housed close to the late King Fahad Alsaud’s palace compound. 

Family members have been known to arrive on mega yachts and when they’re in town, the designer boutiques of Puerto Banus are kept very busy!

The beauty of the Golden Mile aside from its beachside location is that its surrounded by high-end leisure amenities. Guests staying on the Golden Mile have the best fine dining restaurants, the most exclusive beach clubs and the best shopping at their feet. 

Puente Romano Beach, La Suite Marbella, Olivia Valere, and the summer Starlite Festival, are all frequented by celebrities and royalty when they are in town.

The Golden Mile Marbella is the place to see and be seen. Beachfront properties do enjoy maximum security and privacy, but when you step out of a Golden Mile luxury rental, you find yourself in the beating heart of Marbella.

La Zagaleta

Credit: Villa 11 La Zagaleta – AntonioRuizTKM

Set in the hills above and to the west of Marbella, is the gated community of  La Zagaleta.  It’s recognised as being one of the most exclusive addresses in the world. 

This is the chosen destination for elite travellers who appreciate privacy and security during their vacation, as the exclusive gated golf and country club provides ultra-high security. 

La Zagaleta can’t be accessed without prior authorisation and villas here feature helipads and private security guards.

Sandra Cernadas of Empire Villas says that La Zagaleta rental requests tend to come from UHNW individuals who appreciate the security that La Zagaleta provides. They are seeking protection and privacy. 

These super-exclusive villas sell for between 10-30 million Euros and weekly rental rates can reach up to 50,000 €. 

The community of La Zagaleta is so private that it’s only rumoured who owns property there, but the list includes Vladimir Putin, Hugh Grant, Hans Snook – the founder of Orange and Rod Stewart.

Sierra Blanca

For guests who want to easily dip in and out of Marbella, the gated community of Sierra Blanca is an excellent choice.

Situated in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca mountain range with perfect sea views and La Concha mountain as a backdrop, this is one of the most sought-after luxury residential areas on the Costa del Sol.

Its close proximity to Marbella centre and the Golden Mile (a three-minute drive brings you down to the centre of the Golden Mile) makes this a prime location without being the centre attractions. 

The elite neighbourhood features entrance checkpoints and 24-hour surveillance, all surrounded by a peaceful green zone. 

Real estate prices start from around 2 million Euros up to 20 million Euros and weekly rental rates in high season reach the 30-40,000 € per week price tag.

Marbella East

Sublime views from Altos de los Monteros

Still considered to be a prime location is the area known as Marbella East which stretches from the iconic Marbella arch to Cabopino port where it borders Mijas Costa.

The most exclusive location in Marbella East is Los Monteros, where Antonio Banderas owns an exclusive beachfront villa. In fact, he was confined here during the Covid lockdown. We can think of worse places to be confined!

High up in the hills behind Los Monteros is an area known as Altos de los Monteros where the construction of ultra-luxury villas with exquisite views to Marbella and the coast are also elevating the exclusive status of Marbella East.

However, all along this 16-kilometre stretch of coastline, exclusive villas and luxury apartment complexes are nestled within pine forests and sand dunes back the lovely beaches.

Buyers and holidaymakers choose Marbella East for many reasons, including its fine golden sands – Marbella East boasts some of the best beaches on the Costa del Sol, it has an excellent selection of beach restaurants and beach clubs – it’s home to Nikki Beach, it enjoys easy access to Malaga airport (35-40 minute drive), and just like Sierra Blanca, Marbella East is close to Marbella, without being in the busy centre.

A luxury beachfront villa in Marbella East would rent from between 5,000 €-30,000 € per week.

Who books Marbella’s elite villas?

Sandra from Empire Villas explains that many high-end luxury villa rentals in Marbella are only available off-market and exclusively booked through discreet client and family office representatives. 

She also deals with luxury travel planners and ultra-luxury private villa finders, members of staff for royal households and consulates who book villa holidays for ambassadors and politicians.